Steven Walt today ponders a Mitt Romney mystery that occurs to me off and on. And then I come up with the answer, which I will now share with you.
The mystery is why the guy says so many dumb, fact-free things; sometimes counterfactual, in fact. Then there's the tin ear, which is part of it, but perhaps more difficult to understand through my hypothesis.
Back in the eighties, when management consulting was really ramping up, a great many consultant studies were inflicted on the Los Alamos National Laboratory. At the time, I was doing system studies, for which some consultant reports appeared to be relevant. IIRC, at the time, there were a lot of jokes about the uselessness of management consultants. There was a reason for that.
The consultants would arrive at the Lab, take up a great amount of a great number of people's time, and produce a report that a) missed the point
b) betrayed little or no understanding of how the Lab worked, and
c) appeared to have been written from a standard template, sometimes including basic facts.
The consultant reports that I tried to use in my systems studies were superficial and seldom provided any usable information or insight.
I've had the opportunity in the past few weeks to read a report by Bain and Company in an area of my interest. Nothing has changed. Correction: the motivation for the report was clearly predatory in ways that I don't recall the earlier ones being. But that may be my perceptions getting sharper.
This is where Mitt Romney received his training. Facts superficial and arbitrary, apply a predetermined template, give the customer what they want, if you can figure it out.
Looks to me like this explains a lot.
Cross-posted at The Agonist.